With its signature mix of high tech and high concept, Nike revealed new U.S. Olympic speed suits on June 14 that—according to its wind tunnel tests, anyway—could shave up to 0.023 seconds off 100-meter sprint times. The company's designers studied the aerodynamics of golf balls in flight, then produced a suit with dimple-textured patches on the forearm and leg to reduce wind resistance.
Crunching the numbers, Nike concluded that U.S. sprinter Walter Dix would have won the silver medal over the bronze had he been wearing this uniform in the 100-meter finals of the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Nike also unveiled a more efficient sneaker (without the extra weight from glue and stitching), and three new medal-stand uniforms. "The outfits should be celebratory," said Martin Lotti, Nike’s Olympics creative director. "It's an opportunity for athletes to shine."
Nike decided against the traditional blue suits worn in the past and opted for a standout red with USA printed across the chest and an American flag. The company said it used “the image of astronauts as they walk as a team just before embarking on a mission,” as inspiration.
As a green touch, Nike produced each speed suit from the nylon from 13 recycled water bottles.
You can get your own thousandths-of-a-second-shaving, environmentally-friendly suit later this summer, when the consumer version comes out.